Not Everything in the Orlando area costs money!
Enjoy this list (Part I) of activities and explorations that won’t tap your wallet, courtesy of the Orlando County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau. Part II features more activities in the Kissimmee area, Part III features Osceola County Nature Trails, and Part IV lists Polk County Walking Trails.
In a city that’s packed with endless opportunities for magic and excitement, more than a few of those opportunities are free of charge. Check out this extensive list of some of the area’s most interesting and diverse activities that are sure to bring a smile to your face.
Check out Disney Springs , the shopping, dining and entertainment district in Walt Disney World. Originally called DownTown Disney, the area has been re-imagined, redesigned and rebuilt, and is always worth a visit. There’s no admission, and parking is always free! Find out more about it on our website here.
Universal CityWalk is Universal Orlando Resort’s answer to Disney’s Disney Springs. Unlike Disney Springs, CityWalk occupies the area between their theme parks and their parking, forcing you to walk through it on your way to the parks, so you will see it if you’re visiting Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios. This also means that parking costs $30 during the day, but is free in the evenings. Universal Orlando’s CityWalk for more info.
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art features the most comprehensive collection of works by Louis Comfort Tiffany in the world. Located in Winter Park (like lots of other great stuff!) the museum is open to the public at no charge on certain holidays and on Friday’s from 4 – 8 p.m. For more information, visit morsemuseum.org or call 407-645-5311.
While in Winter Park see the Rollins Museum of Art , with a permanent collection of more than 700 paintings, 2000 photographs and a number of sculptures. Rotating exhibitions focus on a variety of subjects. See their website for more information.
Grand Bohemian Gallery located in downtown Orlando’s upscale Grand Bohemian Hotel, showcases a wide array of artwork from local contemporary art glass and jewelry to European paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries and sculptures. For more information, visit grandbohemiangallery.com or call 407-581-4801.
Millenia Fine Art offers the largest collection of museum-quality paintings and sculptures in the Southeast. Collections include basket work, photography, lenticulars and glasswork. For more information, call 407-304-8100.
Shopping only costs money if you buy something; it costs nothing to look! Check out our list of Shopping and Entertainment Districts for something to do, like visiting Icon Park. There are free live music performances and you can see the iconic Wheel at Icon Park which does a crazy night show each night around sunset.
Hike, birdwatch, or both along the Shingle Creek Trail. Described as the ‘headwaters of the Florida Everglades, the water in Shingle Creek eventually makes its way down to the Everglades. You may even spot bald eagles or peregrine falcons along the way. Visit Shingle Creek for more information, or download the trail map here.
Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts provides a place where the public can view the works of artists from African decent and celebrates the life and works of the famous Florida novelist for which the museum was named. Located in the town of Eatonville, just north of downtown Orlando, visit hurstonmuseum.org or call 407-647-3307.
Black Hammock Adventures on Lake Jessup, offers free live alligator and bird exhibits. Watch trainers feed the 12-foot (4 meters), 650-pound (295 kilograms) resident gator, Hammy, on Sunday afternoons. At the Lazy Gator Bar, guests can join the deck party every Friday and Saturday night and listen to free live music. For more information, visit theblackhammock.com or call 407-365-1244.
Harry P. Leu Gardens offers free storytelling for young children on the third Monday of each month and free admission to the gardens from 9 a.m. – noon on Mondays. Leu Gardens includes three miles of paved scenic walkways, a butterfly garden, tropical stream garden, bamboo and palm gardens and 1880s house museum. For more information, visit leugardens.org or call 407-246-2620.
Tibet-Butler Preserve presents a wilderness hiking opportunity within earshot of the Magic Kingdom. You may even hear the Disney steam engine whistle as you walk along the 3.6 miles of trail. For a map and details, see FloridaHikes.com.
Kraft Azalea Gardens located on Lake Maitland in the city of Winter Park, is the ideal place for a picnic or to soak up the beauty of the blooming azalea gardens. The park also offers walking trails and a small fishing dock. For more information, call 407-599-3334 or see Kraft Azalea Garden.
The University of Central Florida Arboretum is home to more than 600 plant species on an 80-acre property. The natural area consists of more than seven different ecosystems along with walking and bike trails and a lake. For more information, visit arboretum.ucf.edu or call 407-823-2761.
Winter Park Farmers Market , is held at the old train depot year-round every Saturday morning from 7 a.m. – 1 p.m. This popular community gathering place provides local vendors and farmers a place to sell their homemade and homegrown specialties, including fruits, vegetables, organic produce, plants, baked goods and more. For more information, call 407-599-3399.
Lake Eola Park , is a 43-acre (17-hectare) recreational area in the heart of downtown Orlando. Visitors can picnic along the shore, enjoy a concert at the amphitheatre, feed the swans and other birds that call the park home or stop by the farmers market on Sundays. If real swans aren’t your thing, you can also rent a swan boat and paddle your way out on the lake, which features a nearly one-mile long sidewalk loop around it. See Lake Eola Park for details.
Over 40 Wall Murals await you in Orlando’s Mills 50 District . Enjoy an area drive or walk and see how many you can discover and enjoy. Visit their website for more information.
Winter Park Popcorn Flicks , presented by the City of Winter Park and Enzian Theatre, are free movie presentations beginning at sunset in Winter Park’s Central Park and Shady Park featuring classic films on the second Thursday of each month. For more information, visit enzian.org or call 407-629-0054.
Classic Movie Mondays happen free of charge under the stars, with on-site food trucks and wine bars. Screenings start at sunset or 7:00 p.m., whichever is later. See À La Cart Orlando for details.
Winter Park Historical Museum is located in the historic Farmers Market Building and houses a photo timeline of Winter Park’s history, as well as changing themed exhibits. The museum also offers a walking-tour of the city that showcases more than 20 sites and includes a free audio tour CD, CD player and map that can be checked out for the day. For more information, visit winterparkhistorical.com or call 407-647-2330.
Disney’s Boardwalk is a re-creation of a 1930s Atlantic coastal village where families can enjoy a leisurely walk on the waterfront while being entertained by street performers ranging from musicians to magicians. For more information, visit disneyworld.com.
Lakeridge Winery & Vineyards located in Clermont, is Florida’s largest premium winery. Visitors can take a free tour of the winery and estate and sample wines in the tasting room daily. For more information, visit lakeridgewinery.com or call 352-394-8627.
Orlando Brewing Company located near downtown Orlando, is the only organic brewery and taproom in the Southeast and one of only 10 in the United States. Free brewery tours, Wi-Fi and live entertainment are available on weekends. For more information, visit orlandobrewing.com or call 407-872-1117.
(Speaking of Craft Breweries, Orlando has a vibrant local industry. Many offer free behind-the-scenes peaks at what they do. At Ivanhoe Park Brewing, for instance, reservations must be made in advance for larger groups, but you can usually ask the staff behind the bar for a quick peek anytime it’s not too busy. Another popular spot, Deadwords Brewing Company, offers free tours only on weekends — just ask the bartender or server — while free tours at Brewlando are available daily between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.)
LEGO Imagination Center located at Downtown Disney Springs, is 4,400 square feet (1,341 square meters) of fun. Guarded by friendly dinosaurs and a huge sea serpent built of LEGO bricks, this play area lets kids explore their creativity by building with colorful bricks at no cost to parents. For more information, visit Lego Store.
Believe it or not, there’s even more things to do and explore on a budget! Check out Part II of this series here!